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Acid reflux in an old dog?

Our customer asked:

I wonder if you could help me. My little dog who is nearly 15 is suffering from bad acid reflux. He is on 15 mg of Zantac twice daily. He had a bad 2012 losing his brother and had lots of issues with his mouth. He has over come this apart from this acid. I have been to my vets and she has prescribed the zantac. But it's still not working. Have you anything or any suggestions. He will be 15 on September.

Our reply:

The "acid reflux" will be caused by something. I am not sure what you mean by acid reflux, or how you know that is what it is. I assume he is vomiting a small amount of liquid periodically. If so, this could be caused by something in the stomach, elsewhere in the gut, or something affecting the liver, kidneys or elsewhere. At 15 years old his system as a whole will not be as robust as it was, and in many ways his organs will not function quite as well as they used to. The Zantac will reduce the acid production of the stomach wall, but that might not be helpful at all. It is fine to try it, but if it is not working I would stop. The acid is produced for a reason and is generally beneficial to a healthy digestion, not a problem in itself to be treated. By "acid reflux" you could mean throat and swallowing symptoms, but these might be down to his mouth issues.

Personally I would offer a light, easily digested diet based on chicken or fish, with three small meals every day. One of the senior type commercial dog foods might be fine, such as Hills Senior. Limitless fresh water should be provided. Additionally I would offer one of the good quality probiotic mixtures, such as Pro-Kolin Enterogenic. This should help with the general health of the gut lining and will certainly do no harm.

If this is not effective, then ideally you would try to get an accurate diagnosis, which would involve blood tests and scans etc, which can become very involved and expensive. I would try the above first.

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Thursday 14th February 2013